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Reflecting on peace

Peaceful Yearnings amid nuclear plans

As I swam in the ocean this morning, I could not help but think of nuclear submarines.  I met, out there swimming, a friend who has just written a book about Chinese people on the goldfields in the time of Ned Kelly. 

Jesus says to us plainly “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. ( Matthew 5:43). 

Elsewhere we are encouraged to be peacemakers and to take whatever steps we can to resolve differences with the quality of forgiveness God is always giving us. 

We pray, in the prayer Jesus gave us: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” 

The time has arrived for us ordinary disciples of Jesus to pray for the healing and renewal of our relationship with the people and leadership of China. 

We can see the danger in the drift of events. 

We know from history how events can get away from leaders and have entirely unforeseen and tragic consequences. 

I have spent much of my 25 years as a Bishop in small country churches with large plaques that remember local youngsters who went off to World War 1 and never returned. 

In the September Joint Message offered by Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, these gracious leaders draw from the global pandemic and all the threats to God’s creation to say that now: 

“We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations”. 

We have seen where adversarial, hostile relations lead. There are already more than 80 million people displaced globally, seeking refuge somewhere safe. The opportunity cost of every arms race is that it causes more of the poor to suffer. 

God mandates: “Choose life, so that you and your children might live”( Dt.30:19) 

We have been gifted with life for this short while, between the mysteries of birth and death. The earth is our common home, and all children are our children to care for at home together on planet earth. 

We must pray that our international relations lift beyond the repeated limits of times past to embrace our new reality. 

We must pray for fresh initiatives in diplomacy that open up opportunities for relational warmth, reconciliation and new beginnings. 

We are already deeply bonded with China at many levels. 

For example, through study and trade, cultural exchanges and migration there are many lovely friendships. 

These are the basis for a new beginning. 

The wisdom of our spiritual traditions is that when there are difficulties, we must sit with each other for  as long as it takes for better understanding of each other to emerge ; for our mistakes of history to be sufficiently healed that we have enough light for our next steps together - away from enmity ,towards friendship. 

We must pray such opportunities for deep listening emerge. 

We must pray for our national and international leaders, tired as they are from months of crisis - management through the pandemic. 

The United Nations General Assembly begins next Tuesday 21 September. This is also the UN International Day of Peace and a focus for our prayers for peace. 

A PRAYER: 

“Dear Jesus, in your peace guide as to how we can be better peacemakers in these days that are ahead. 

Dear Jesus, we pray for our leaders. 

Dear Jesus, we pray for a healing and renewal of relationships with the leadership of China. 

Dear Jesus, we pray for the wellbeing of all children and pray that our every decision gives them more of your abundant life. 

Dear Jesus, have mercy. AMEN.”

 

Bishop Philip Huggins

NCCA President

 

Further reading:

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) warns the plan will isolate Australia from its regional neighbours who want a nuclear-free Pacific

While the Australian government and defence force have insisted the submarines will be nuclear-powered, and never nuclear-armed, ICAN, the winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, argues that a military nuclear reactor built in Adelaide was a “foot in the door” towards weapons development.

Read the full Guardian article: Australian nuclear submarine plan ‘wrong direction at the wrong time’, Nobel prize-winning group says

ICAN media release  - Nuclear submarine deal

“Important questions remain over construction of the submarines and the potential imposition of military nuclear reactors on Adelaide or other cities, making construction sites and host ports certain nuclear targets,” said Gem Romuld, Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Australia.  

"This is a highly provocative move and we reject any increased nuclearisation of Australia's military...Regional stability will not be achieved by a government that increases tensions among nuclear-armed states." 

The full media release is here. 

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